October 16, 2019
The Hon. Delia York vice-chair of the Kansas Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee, brought attention to Our Town Our Kids at a two-day event in Topeka. The conference was a gathering of the Joint Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice Oversight, with addresses by the Acting Secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections and the Deputations Secretary of Juvenile and Adult Community Based Services. Bruce Chladny, Executive Director of Kansas Association of Counties (formerly with OTOK) attended the conference, reporting that Judge York heralded OTOK as important work for ways in which communities are identifying local needs and utilizing Reinvestment dollars.
October 13, 2019
According to the Kansas City Star posted on October 9, 2019 a 12-year-old Overland Park girl formed a gun with her fingers, pointed at four of her Westridge Middle School classmates one at a time, and then turned the pretend weapon toward herself. Police hauled her out of school in handcuffs, arrested her and charged the child with a felony for threatening. Shawnee Mission school officials said they could not discuss the case, citing privacy laws, but did say it wasn’t the district that arrested the child. A school resource officer, employed, by the Overland Park Police Department, would have handled the arrest, Smith said. The department said it could not discuss the case. But according to Johnson County District Court documents, on Sept. 18, the girl “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities …” or created just the risk of causing such fear. The Overland Park Police incident report provided to The Star included no details of what happened, only the date, time and place. A person familiar with a more detailed incident report spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity. The person said that during a class discussion, another student asked the girl, if she could kill five people in the class, who would they be? In response, the girl allegedly pointed her finger pistol — like the ones many children use playing cops and robbers. Because of that gesture, The Star was told, the girl was sent to Principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office, and the other students involved were also talked to. The school resource officer recommended that she be arrested, the source said. She was detained by police and later released to her mother. A hearing in the Juvenile Division of the District Court of Johnson County is set for Tuesday. “I think that this is something that probably could have been handled in the principal’s office and got completely out of hand,” said Jon Cavanaugh, the girl’s grandfather in California, where the girl is now living. He said his granddaughter has no access to a real gun and she had no intent of harming anyone. “She was just mouthing off,” he said. Smith said that in general, pointing a finger pistol might violate the district’s policy against intimidation and bullying. “I might not have anything in my hand but I might be so clear that the individual definitely feels threatened,” Smith said. Following the many school shootings across the country, such as last year’s Feb. 14 mass killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many states have adopted zero-tolerance polices for bullying and threatening. School officials are sensitive to any gesture or language that could threaten the safety of students, teachers or school staff. To see the full story and videos please go to: https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article235891762.html
September 21, 2019
Please click and read the Pew Research Center's report about the success that Kansas has had with juvenile justice reform: Pewtrusts: Kansas Reforms Improve Juvenile Justice
September 7, 2019
We are very proud to announce that one of our OTOK PIs, Elaine Johannes, has been appointed to the Kansas Advisory Group (KAG) by Governor Kelly. We are well represented! Click here to learn more about the appointment and the key role of KAG.
September 7, 2019
We welcome a partnership with the new Director of Docking Institute at Fort Hays State University, Dr. Brett Zollinger. We appreciate the working relationship with former director, Michael Walker, and look forward to ongoing work with Docking. April Terry, Docking Fellow, also extends her expertise into the Study Circle process.
September 7, 2019
Congratulations to Bruce Chladny who has just been appointed Executive Director of Kansas Association of Counties (KAC)! We will sorely miss Bruce here on the OTOK team, but know that we will join forces in working toward the increasing success of Kansas communities. See more about Bruce and KAC here.